Pubdate: Tue, 24 Nov 2015
Source: Simcoe Reformer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2015 Sun Media
Author: Monte Sonnenberg,
Page: A1

Fair Warning: Holiday RIDE program is underway


Abusers of illegal and prescription drugs were reminded this week that
you don't need alcohol to be charged with impaired driving.

"There are ways to detect for substances other than alcohol," Const.
Ed Sanchuk of the Norfolk OPP said at Monday's kickoff to the force's
2015 holiday RIDE program. "If there's enough evidence to lay the
charge, we will lay the charge."

This aspect of impaired driving is timely now that the federal
Liberals have been elected with a mandate to legalize marijuana.

It's a little known fact, but police forces have "drug recognition
officers" who are trained to determine a motorist's level of
impairment when they have been abusing substances other than alcohol.

Due to their expertise, the testimony of drug recognition officers is
given considerable weight in the courts. The penalties for a
conviction are the same for drivers who are impaired by alcohol.
Police are especially determined to get to the bottom of the matter
when a suspected impaired driver has been involved in a collision.
Where a collision has occurred, police will obtain a search warrant
compelling a suspect to provide a blood sample for testing.

The first of many RIDE checkpoints to come in Norfolk took place in
front of the Simcoe detachment of the Norfolk OPP Monday afternoon.
Underscoring the seriousness of the issue, front-line officers were
joined by Insp. Zvonko Horvat, chief of the Norfolk OPP. "We want to
make sure everyone is safe on our roadways," Horvat said. "We expect
our officers to be vigilant about drinking and driving."

"RIDE" stands for "reduce impaired driving everywhere." Checkpoints
can be set up anywhere and at any time of the day. The Norfolk OPP
leave it up to officers in the field and commanding officers at the
detachment to determine when officers swing into action.

If you are impaired and you are caught at a RIDE checkpoint, expect to
feel the full brunt of the law. e OPP's policy is zero tolerance,
which means no warnings.

"We're sick of the carnage," Sanchuk explained.

The OPP want motorists to understand that this carnage could involve
you or a loved one if you are among the few who think it is clever to
post the location of RIDE checkpoints on social media. In doing so,
you may be sabotaging the police. But you could also be sabotaging

"That's a concern to us," Sanchuk said. "That's an irresponsible use
of social media."

The OPP's RIDE program traditionally runs till Jan. 2. is holiday
season, the force hopes to see the number of impaired charges and
warning suspensions decline. Across Ontario, these violations have
been hovering stubbornly in the range of 600 and 500 respectively over
the past two Christmases.

Aside from abstaining from intoxicants before driving, there are a
number of other measures people can take to reduce the threat impaired
driving poses to public safety.

The OPP suggest volunteering to be a designated driver or calling a
taxi when a potentially impaired driver tries to get behind the wheel.
No one should be afraid to confiscate the keys of an impaired
individual who insists on driving.

Hosts can also offer to put people up for the night who get impaired
at parties or other functions. And when you see a suspected impaired
motorist weaving down the highway, do not hesitate to alert police by
dialling 911.

"A driver who is impaired by alcohol or drugs is a driver who does not
deserve to operate a motor vehicle alongside drivers who are
responsible," the OPP said in a news release earlier this year. "Road
safety is a shared responsibility and - by working together - we can
continue to make a difference."

Across Ontario last year, the OPP staged more than 8,000 RIDE
checkpoints during the holiday season. One person died in Ontario in
an impaired-related collision during the 2014 campaign.
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